Moscow to halt Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program with the U.S.

Russia is unwilling to extend the Nunn-Lugar Program launched in the early 1990s that provides U.S. financial support to the liquidation of Russia's redundant nuclear munitions, outdated strategic rockets and chemical and biological weapons, Kommersant said on Wednesday.

Following the notification that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will stop its operations in Russia, Moscow may call an end to the Nunn-Lugar Program, the newspaper said.

The program enacted in 1991 has been extended twice, in 1999 and 2006. It is now valid through May 2013.

Sources at the Pentagon and the U.S. Department of State told the newspaper that the U. S. would like to extend the program and related negotiations started several months before. The issue was highlighted during the latest Russian visit of a high-ranking delegation of the Congress, the Department of State and the Pentagon led by Senator Richard Lugar, an author of the program.

The delegation achieved nothing; sources told Kommersant the delegation was told Russia deemed to extention of the deal inexpedient.

The U. S. officially estimates the program allocations at approximately $8 billion, the newspaper said. Russia said it no longer needed U.S. financial aid and could cope with the tasks of the Nunn-Lugar Program on its own, a Department of State source told the newspaper.

In turn, a source at the Russian Foreign Ministry said, "This is an agreement discriminative of Russia; it disregards changes, which have taken place since the time the agreement was signed in the 1990s - a period hard for our country."

Another reason is fears that the United States receives too much "sensitive information" about the Russian arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. The Pentagon source said Moscow told Washington about that, as well.

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